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FTC Goes After Viral Marketers

post #1 of 6
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Quote:
Can word-of-mouth recommendations still be trusted?

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced this week that companies that engage in viral marketing -- also known as word-of-mouth marketing -- must disclose who they are representing or who they work for. For example, if someone on a bus started talking about AMD processors, they must reveal to those who are llistening that they are from AMD. Similarly, other forms of viral marketing are under watch now as well. Blogs, web pages and other forum posts are all part of viral marketing too, and the practice has picked up over the last several years.

The problem with marketing these days is that most consumers are finding it more difficult to believe. Exaggerated numbers, obscured specifications and other vague product detail are contributing to the reason why consumers now only trust word-of-mouth recommendations. Unfortunately, many companies are aware of this and have paid people to practice viral marketing. Sometime a weblog may not be a true personal weblog at all. A user on a popular forum may actually be an employee of a company that they are speaking about in a positive light.

The decision by the FTC follows a case where Sony had hired a group of 60 actors pretending to be regular consumers. On a "touring" trip around New York City, the actors asked randomly passing people to help take photos. It was then that Sony's SE T68i phone was used and its features demonstrated. The actors themselves never revealed that they were actually contracted by Sony. This type of marketing could become illegal quite shortly.

Consumers face a barrage of purchasing choices on a daily basis. The fact that there are many companies out there pretending to give out unbiased information is definitely disheartening as well as frightening. The FTC told reporters that it would investigate such cases and seek appropriate action.
Soure: DailyTech
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post #2 of 6
That sucks - the only innovative marketing that I've seen in the past 5 or so years has been viral and a bit deceptive in the way they're talking about. I think it's kinda fun to get involved in a lot of those campaigns before you really know whether or not it's marketing.

I don't really see who got hurt in that NYC case. All they were doing was showing off the features - who cares if it's a rep or not showing it
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post #3 of 6
Eh, impossible to detect and enforce.
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post #4 of 6
When I saw FTC I thought you were talking about five towns college in Dix Hills, Long Island lol
post #5 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by selectodude View Post
Eh, impossible to detect and enforce.
Truth.

This kind of marketing is everywhere. A while back SPCR had an issue with SilenX promoting stuff on their forums in that way. Then there's the imfamous FirefoxMyths. What it comes down to is, if a large company with lots of cash wants to convince you of something, they will convince you, since the little guys can do it without.
     
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post #6 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by selectodude View Post
Eh, impossible to detect and enforce.
Although I do not care which direction this goes in... viral marketing is kind of "iffy."
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